DURBAN, South Africa (AFP) – A late Willie le Roux try sealed a 12-6 victory for Central Cheetahs over Coastal Sharks Saturday in an error-ridden Super 15 match clash of South African sides.
Right wing Le Roux intercepted a pass from flank Pieter-Steph du Toit and could afford the luxury of looking over his shoulder as he sprinted to the line two minutes from time.
Sharks retaliated with a break by centre Paul Jordaan that took play close to the Cheetahs tryline, but the home team were penalised while trying to score a pushover try and the referee blew for full-time.
The victory lifted the Cheetahs above the Sharks to first place on the South African conference standings and to third on the combined southern hemisphere provincial championship table.
After surrendering a five-game winning run at Northern Bulls last weekend, it was a welcome return to winning ways for the Bloemfontein-based team at a ground where they traditionally struggle.
Sharks were suffering their third defeat in five matches after a three-win start to the season and start a four-match Australasia tour next weekend away to defending champions Waikato Chiefs of New Zealand.
This was a poor match with the weather playing spoilsport as the slippery ball was constantly mishandled, especially by the Sharks, who were booed by the drenched 10,600 crowd in the closing stages.
Cheetahs deserved to win as they scored the only tries of the game, defending bravely, got on top in the scrums, forced many turnovers at the breakdown and were generally hungrier for success.
The first score did not arrive until seven minutes before half-time when a couple of hacked kicks toward the Sharks tryline ended with left wing Raymond Rhule diving over and fly-half Burton Francis converting.
After kicking two penalties to touch rather than at the posts, Sharks fly-half Patrick Lambie landed one in first-half stoppage time to leave the home team trailing 7-3 at half-time.
Francis was short with a drop kick attempt and also missed a penalty before Lambie kicked another penalty on 65 minutes to narrow the gap between the teams to a single point.
But as the error count rose, the Sharks rarely threatened to overtake the visitors and will be concerned about a thigh injury to Springbok prop Tendai ‘The Beast’ Mtawarira as they prepare to tour.